Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Dr. Margaret A. Lindauer

Second Advisor

Dr. Eric Garberson

Third Advisor

Dr. Colin Lang


Between 1946 and 1948, American photographer Margaret Bourke-White traveled to India while on assignments for Life magazine. Since the late 1940s, a photograph from these assignments that depicts three men sitting in an ornately decorated room has appeared in several publications and exhibitions under variations of the title A Moneylender’s House (1947). Though Bourke-White is traditionally categorized as a documentary photojournalist, her photograph exhibits motifs similar to those seen in European Orientalist paintings from the nineteenth century. Considering recent scholarship that has expanded the temporal and geographical parameters of the Orientalist photography genre, this thesis analyzes the “documentary” photograph, A Moneylender’s House, in its varied exhibition and publication contexts to determine whether they present the photographic subjects from a “nonrepressive and nonmanipulative perspective” (one that Edward Said suggests might provide an “alternative” to Orientalism), or reinforce the “Self/Other” binary at the core of Orientalism.


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